The President’s Promise And Realigned Congress Reignites Immigration Debate

With the midterm elections now in the rearview mirror, the debate over comprehensive immigration reform and the President’s willingness and authority to act unilaterally come back to the fore. The Republican Party has now taken control over the United States Senate and strengthened its majority position in the House of Representatives. Last year the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which seeks to enhance border security, provide a path to eventual citizenship for undocumented individuals, increase the number of positions in which high tech and IT companies can annually fill with foreign workers and establish a temporary worker program for those waiting in the back of the line for a chance at citizenship.

But after the GOP-led House refused to take up the bipartisan Senate bill, crafted after many months of negotiations, President Obama stated that his administration would issue executive orders by the end of this past summer addressing the status of many undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for many years. Then under pressure from certain Democratic candidates concerned about losing their races if the President so acted, he delayed any decision until after the midterms.

Within twenty-four hours from the reporting of election returns, the conflict over the debate was rejoined. At a press conference, President Obama urged the current Congress to move forward before the end of the year. He said that their failure to act will compel him to act on his own, but he did not say specifically what kind of measures he was considering.

By the next day the Speaker of the House and current Senate Minority (putative Majority head next year) Leader issued a warning to the President. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell characterized any such unilateral move by the President on immigration reform as akin to “waving a red flag in front of a bull and asserted it would “poison the well in terms of any future cooperation between the two parties during the upcoming term.

Having put off executive action until after the elections, the President faces a difficult choice: provide further deportation relief beyond that granted by DACA as signaled last summer and stoke a civil war with the new majority opposed to many elements of immigration reform or violate his promise in the hope that such restraint may prompt peaceful relations more conducive to compromise in other policy areas.

The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.  In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.